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Anatomy of an Attack


The Basics


Did you know.... that most shark attacks take place in shallow water? Yes, most attacks occur within 50 feet of the shoreline.

Most attacks occur due to one of two basic reasons:

  • Attacks related to threat and aggression
  • Attacks related to feeding (natural predatory behaviors)

Aggression and Threat:

Attacks which stem from the first group of threat and aggression can also be broken down into two categories of "Provoked" and "Unprovoked."

Provoked attacks: Provoked attacks occur due to carelessness or bad judgment by divers and ocean bathers. An example being pulling the tail of a shark, or attempting to hand feed them. Also considered a provoked attack are fisherman who land a shark and then are bitten as a result.

Unprovoked attacks: These type of attacks occur when the swimmer, wader or diver unintentionally enter into a situation in which the shark feels threatened. For example a surfer who may fall off his board very near a shark. The shark may see this as a potential threat and lash out at the surfer. Either in defense or to protect it's territory. Similar to the reaction of a dog protecting it's yard.

Feeding/Predatory Behavior:

Often shark attacks are related to a shark's natural predatory nature. Feeding sharks or those in search of prey may easily bite a human who may be swimming amidst a school of bait fish. Also, many food sources for sharks swim near the surface of the water. A shark could then easily mistake a human swimming near the surface as prey. Other stimuli which play a part in this type of attack would be blood in the water (such as that from fish which a spear fisherman has speared) or swimming in an area where fisherman have dumped the byproducts from their cleaned fish. Also being in an area with species that are natural prey for the shark.

Although most shark attacks fall into one of these two main categories, they do not account for all attacks. There is still much to learn about exactly "why" a shark may or may not attack. To learn what you can do to reduce your risk please follow me on to the next page.

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